German car manufacturer Audi, Airbus and Italdesign presented Tuesday a reduced version of its vision of the future: a drone able to tear the cabin of an autonomous electric vehicle and then fly to its destination.
The companies introduced the concept of flying taxi Tuesday during the drone week in Amsterdam.
You can watch the entire video below that shows the different steps of the process.
To be clear, the companies showed that it was a working prototype, too small to be used by humans. The prototype of "Pop.Up Next" was a 1: 4 scale model.
Nevertheless, the companies have provided an optimistic view of the future which they say may well be in a decade or so.
"Flying taxis are on the way. At Audi, we are convinced of this, "said Bernd Martens, board member in charge of purchasing and IT at Audi, and president of Audi subsidiary Italdesign. "More and more people are moving to cities. And more and more people will be mobile thanks to automation. In the future, older people, children and people without a driver's license will want to use convenient robotic taxis. If we can intelligently distribute traffic between roads and airspace, citizens and cities will benefit. "
In a description of the YouTube video, Audi said the flying taxi service could be rolled out "as early as the next decade."
To prepare, Audi is testing in South America in cooperation with Voom, an Airbus subsidiary, to find out what a scheduled flight service might look like. Customers can book flights by helicopter to Mexico City or Sao Paulo, while an Audi is ready for the trip to or from the landing site.
"Services like this help us better understand the needs of our customers. Because in the future, flying taxis will attract a large number of city dwellers. With Pop.Up Next, we simultaneously explore the limits of what is technically possible. The next step is to fly a full-size prototype, "said Martens.
Audi is also supporting the Urban Air Mobility flying taxis project in Ingolstadt, an initiative to prepare test operations for a flying taxi on the Audi site.